Monday, March 29, 2010

Question 1

In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?

The genre for our film sequence was a hybrid of Crime and Thriller. Although these are two separate genres, they are often combined in the film industry.
Crime/Thriller films usually contain:
Genre Conventions                                                            

A film which follows most of these conventions and is of the same genre as ours is ‘Seven’ – starring Morgan Freeman and directed by David Fincher in 1995. The film uses a male villain who commits seven criminal acts – the film is very psychological and forces the audience to think a lot, there are clues throughout as to who the killer may be just like there will be in our film.

Our film also follows many of these conventions – we have a female character being raped by a ‘hard’ male villain. In our opening sequence there is a mix between the bright lighting of the girl talking to the camera in a direct address form, and dark and gloomy lighting in the build up to the rape.

A factor of our film goes against conventions is the fact that it is from the woman’s perspective. She gets raped and throughout the film, the audience sees how she copes with this and the repercussions of the act. Usually Crime/Thriller films are from a male perspective; either a male helping a female, like a policeman, or from the perspective of the criminal.

The setting of our sequence was important to create the correct mood and feeling:
- The build up to the rape scene was conventionally set at night - this plays on the audience's minds, suggesting hidden dangers and the sense  of the unknown
- The actual rape itself took place in a brightly lit flat - this is a location where the girl would feel safe compared to the dark outside. It is typical of a thriller to invade the victim's comfort zone and make them feel that nowhere is safe.

The costume’s we used were very much deliberate and key to our characters:
- We dressed the rapist in a large coat which covered most of his face to hide his identity. Other than that, he was wearing regular clothes as rapists don’t have set attire – they are just like ‘normal people’.

- For our female character, we dressed her in a relatively conservative outfit – a big coat and a skirt that wasn’t too short. However, the pink heels and skirt suggest she had been on a night out which is what we were trying to achieve – a na├»ve character who wasn’t expecting this to happen to her.

- For the clips of her talking to the camera after she had been raped, the girl was dressed in a baggy grey hoodie done up nearly to the top – this shows that she has been hugely affected by her rape experience and is trying to cover up and hide from the world.

We used two pieces of music for our piece as there were two effects we were trying to achieve:

The first piece is a sad, mournful track called ‘sad story’. We used it in our sequence to create a sense of sorrow and sympathy for the girl. It runs over the second track and creates an eerie effect.

The second piece we used is a typical thriller track from the same website. It builds tension and suspense and drives the sequence on – suggesting something bad is going to happen even before it does. 

Narrative Structure 
Our opening sequence also challenges theories such as Todorov's - a theory that claims films should start with an equlibrium where everything is as it should be,as example for this would be Legally Blonde. Our sequence does not follow this structure as it starts with a disrupted equilibrium and it is not restored .

Question 2

How does your media product represent particular social groups?

Our product targets two social groups in particular – age and gender.

Our main target would be women – our film is based on a female perspective and has a very female storyline. In a way the film goes against typical conventions of films aimed at women – it is filmed and edited in a very gritty style which isn’t necessarily what a female audience it looking for and is about a non idealistic topic - rape. However, the main protagonist driving our story along is a woman and the character is very relatable s as she is just an average girl like our audience who gets caught up in this horrible scenario. The naivety of the character may worry the audience and the film tackles a very real, serious problem of rape and its’ effects.

Young adults 
In terms of age, our product could appeal to a wide range. As the main character is young, an audience of viewers around a similar age group would find the film appealing and relatable – making this our primary target audience. The girl is similar to some characters already on the radar for young adults in popular culture for example the character in teenage drama skins – Effy Stonem. 

The characters are similar in their ‘party-girl’ lifestyle and the clothes our main character wears, and her social life – which would be shown in flashbacks throughout the film – is very similar to that of the popular teen character. However, our film could also be appealing to a secondary, older generation that enjoy psychological crime thrillers such as ‘Seven’. As our film requires deep thought in trying to work out who the rapist is and what will happen next, this more mature audience will find this factor satisfying, despite the younger cast.

Question 3

What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why?

Our production company is GPH Productions – it is a production company based in the UK that specialises in making low-budget, indie films that tackle real problems with today’s society.

Our distribution company is Heartbeat Films – this is also a UK based company that work alongside GPH Productions to distribute their films. This is a mutually beneficial relationship as the companies work in synergy – building their relationships and the reputation in the industry together, whilst also making each other money.

Two companies that worked similarly in synergy in real life for the film Paranormal Activity (2009, Peli) are Paramount Pictures and Dreamworks. 

As Paranormal Activity was made on a low budget, like our film, the production company didn’t have the money to distribute on a large scale. They couldn’t afford to put the film in cinemas so it travelled around on the film festival circuit before eventually being seen and liked by people high up in the film industry – the film then got picked up by Paramount and was advertised, screened and distributed on a worldwide scale.


This is the same path I think our film would follow. As both our production company and our distributor are small companies who deal with low budget indie films, they would not be able to afford an elaborate marketing scheme. Instead, the film would be screened in small, independent cinemas such as The Phoenix in North London. Although this would not be ideal to attract our primary target audience – The Phoenix doesn’t tend to attract a young, female audience – our secondary audience of older women who enjoy psychological thrillers would be able to see it there. Our aim would be to eventually build up enough hype around the film, via word of mouth, that the audience demand for the film would go up - like with paranormal activity - and a larger distribution company would step in and pay for large scale advertising.

Hopefully they would be able to advertise and screen the film in places where our target audience would see it – on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, on TV channels such as MTV and E4 and show the films in large multiplex chains such as the Odeon and Vue.

Question 4

Who would be the audience for your media product?

Our Primary target audience for ‘The Safehouse’ would be young women between the ages of 18-32

This is Becky Thompson:
- She is a 21 year old female from LondonEngland
- She is at Leeds University studying Psychology.
- She loves watching films and TV in her spare time and her favourite programmes are CSI and Lie To Me.
- She particularly likes watching films that make her think, her all time favourite films are Seven and Hannibal.
- She loves to go out clubbing - she finds letting her hair down at the weekend after a long week is the best way for her to relax. 
- She goes to the on cinema campus on at least once a month to see the latest blockbuster – although when back home in London she tries to go to her small, local cinema as it shows smaller indie films which she also loves to watch.

We chose the girl in the film to play the role as she is a very relatable character – a naive young woman who is extremely unfortunate to be caught up in this situation. She leads a typical life that any of our audience could relate to - making the film experience all the more real.  By adding the element of rape to the film, it entices and intrigues the audience because not only is rape a scary and scarring experience, but it is something unknown to audience.

Question 5

How did you attract/address your audience?

In order to attract the right audience to our film, first we had to understand our target audience very well and then we had to shape our film around what would attract them to watch it.

When we came up with our idea, we decided we needed an actress for the main character that was average. She needed to be someone the audience could relate to – in looks, personality, dress and lifestyle. We achieved this with our final actress.

We chose a crime-thriller film as it would attract a wide audience and satisfy what a lot of people look for in films. We also knew that if there were tense moments that could be scary in our film; young adults would want to come with their friends or partners for comfort – drawing in yet more viewers.

- We shot our sequence during the night to add drama and effect to our piece – the darkness makes everything more eerie.
- The film is also shot in an abstract style – with flashbacks telling about half of the film and explaining what led up to the present situation.
 - Our audience fits into a small, niche group of which our knowledge was already good. We knew that they spend a lot of time on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter so to interact with them for events such as our feedback screening, we created a Facebook group.

Go to our Facebook event

- Our screening attracted an audience of about 50 viewers, it was very succesful as it allowed us to get feedback on our sequence from those outside of our group at whom the film was aimed. We created a questionnaire for the audience to fill out and from this we established what worked well in our sequence, whether it was understandable and what the audience thought could be improved upon.

Photos of our screening:

Our questionnaire filled out with the most common answers:

Question 6

What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing this product?

We used a lot of different technology throughout the process of constructing this coursework product:

- During the pre-production stage we used normal pc software for using the internet to research, plan and blog our product.

- During the production stage we used all the shooting equipment and technology needed for filming.

- During the post-production stage we used all the software technology on our specific edit suites to edit our final product.

The camera we used to shoot our sequence was a Sony Mini DV camera. It was easy to use as I have used one similar to it in previous projects but also has a simple set up which means basically anyone could work it out. With the camera came a shotgun mic which slotted onto the top, this was ideal for us as any dialogue we had was close up to our actors so a boom mic was not necessary.

To steady the camera when shooting most shots, we used a tripod. It was very useful as it allowed us to shoot from different heights while still having a steady shot and also allowed a steady, smooth pan – which would have been hard to achieve with a handheld shot.

Our group brought a paglight to each of our shoots as a precaution because we were shooting in the dark. Luckily, our lighting was good enough in all the night time shots so that we didn’t have to use this extra piece of equipment, but it was good to have it just in case.

The software we used to edit our sequence was ‘Adobe Premiere Pro’. As I had used this programme in past projects, I was already very familiar with how to use it – which was very useful because we could just get straight on with editing and learning additional techniques rather than learning from scratch. We took it in turns to edit our sequence although some group members did more as they were more confident and adept at editing. Throughout the project, I learnt how to use some transition effects which were useful when cutting from shot to shot in the sequence. I learned how to use a cross-dissolve and how to slow down the video without slowing down the sound which was important in the sequence.

We also used an Apple Mac for certain aspects of the project such as making the titles for our sequence. The programme we used was called ‘Art Effects’ and it was a new programme to me so I had to be given a tutorial. Once I knew the basics, I found it was very easy to use and it wasn’t long before I could make titles all on my own which was good for efficiency.

Question 7

Looking back at your preliminary task, what do you feel you have learnt in the progression from it to the full product?

The brief we were given for the preliminary task was;

A continuity task involving filming and editing:
- Character opens the door
- Walks across the room
- Sits opposite other character and exchanges a couple of lines of dialogues

It should contain different continuity techniques

The brief for the main task was;

To produce a 2 minute opening sequence for a fiction film, it must include:
- Titles throughout
- Some form of copyright free soundtrack
- Evidence of understanding of continuity editing

When planning our production, there were several things learnt from the preliminary task that we put into practice. To avoid any problems with our location, we went on a reccie to see whether it was suitable for what we wanted to film there and to find out if we had permission to film there. We also realised that organisation was key to a successful production – this meant all the planning and research was completely up to scratch before we went of f to shoot. To achieve this we had arranged group meetings to makes sure what we all needed to do in order to succeed with the production.

The preliminary task helped us a lot when it came to shooting our production. Realising that time management was important, we planned out our shoot days well, knowing how much time we had to do what – it also helped that we knew how to use all the equipment so we didn’t waste time trying to figure it out. We also learned in the preliminary task that a master shot was important when it came to editing – it was always useful to cut back to if there was a continuity problem such as a break in the 180 degree rule.

When it came to editing our sequence, we already knew how to use the software we were using – this helped in conserving our time and meant we could learn more advanced techniques. It also helped us to see who was stronger in what place – meaning we could save time when assigning roles.

Working as a team
Throughout the project, listening to one another and working together was the most important factor to making our final sequence. A mistake made in the preliminary task was that one of our group members had made a mistake whilst filmingand the whole team broke down because of lack of communication. This experience showed me how important it was to talk to your group and listen to what they have to say - this way if there are problems, you can avoid arguments.